The marketing community has been hotly debating whether influencer marketing will survive or disappear in the new year. A quick news scan will bring up a slew of articles dedicated to the topic including: “The Death of Influencer Marketing as We Knew It”, “Is Influencer Marketing Here to Stay?” and “The Death of the Death of Influencer Marketing”.
However, much like the rise of social media, branded podcasts, and many other 21st century marketing methods, influencer marketing is here to stay, and it will evolve with the changing marketing landscape.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a method where individuals, or “influencers” with a large social media following promote products or services via their social platforms. Influencers can be anyone from household celebrities, to reality TV stars, to people who are famous purely for their social media content. While the platforms may be new, influencer marketing can be traced back to a long tradition of the brand spokesmen.
Why is it being pronounced dead?
Consumers are increasingly looking for content that is authentic and relevant. According to a recent survey we conducted on consumer social media engagement, the number one reason a consumer will unsubscribe from a social media channel is not relevant content. An influencer who is constantly streaming posts marked “#ad” will become a quick unsubscribe for today’s consumer.
The best way to combat this is by making sure that your offering is highly relevant to the audience of the influencers you are using. In 2020 we will see influencer marketing that includes local techniques, generational considerations, and segmented strategies in order to make sure content is appropriately targeted to consumers who will find it helpful, instead of inauthentic.
In November of 2019, Instagram began running tests where they removed the ability for the public to see the amount of likes a post receives, which encouraged social media strategists to focus more on quality. This renewed focus on quality gave rise to the “nano-influencer”. Nano-influencers typically have a smaller following of between 1,000 and 10,000 followers and either represent a niche community or are local in focus. In the next year expect local foodies to begin posting nationwide brands and small-time hobbyists to be schilling the latest gadgets.
The generational make up of a social media platform tends to shift over time. Facebook, originally a college-only platform, has shifted to include older audiences as the platform gained in popularity. Meanwhile, many members of Generation Z have never had a Facebook, and instead opted for newer mediums for their first social media experience.
Influencer marketers act in many channels, however their bread and butter has always been Instagram. As Instagram begins to trend older, influencers will focus more heavily on new platforms such as TikTok, to capture Generation Z buyers. However, marketers should be careful not to neglect an important population in the process, the older audiences just joining Instagram. In 2020 brands should focus both on alternative channels and what an influencer strategy could look like for an older audience.
Marketing strategists will begin to segment influencers into key categories, in order to create an ecosystem that appeals to their marketing mix. The same brands will be featured on the channels of:
- Niche influencers
- Nano & Micro-influencers
- Blogger influencers
- Celebrity influencers
- Industry expert influencers
- And more…
The future of influencer marketing
A complete influencer marketing strategy should include a mix of influencers and platforms to appeal to audiences that are local, niche and generationally changing. Influencer marketing is far from dead, instead expect it to become more complex and nuanced in the next decade.